I'm not suggesting you meal plan your lunches in advance. On the contrary, If I had to decide what I was going to have for lunch every single day, figure out the ingredients and shop for them every week like I do my dinners, I would go insane because that is just too much thought and prep. Let's put some pizzaz and life back into lunch. You don't have to settle for plain grilled cheese and PB&J because chances are you have all right ingredients to make something more exciting, if only you could think of it. That's the point of this post, to inspire creativity at lunchtime using very accessible ingredients.
And now, without further ado, I give you my favorite different and easy sandwich ideas: The Mexican black bean and jalapeno sandwich with salsa, toasted open faced chicken, Brie and tomato and finally, Sicilian tuna and white bean sandwiches.
To start: The Toasted Chicken, Brie and Tomato
-Mrs. Dash Seasoning
Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over a piece of bread (optional). Top with shredded rotisserie chicken, Brie cheese and tomato. Sprinkle the top with Mrs. Dash seasoning and a little bit of sea salt. Place in a toaster oven and turn to 400 degrees for about 5 minutes or until cheese has melted, tomatoes are slightly roasted looking and the bread has toasted. Top with fresh torn basil. Enjoy!
Mexican Black Bean and Jalapeno Sandwich with Salsa
-Hearty bread such as sourdough
-Pickled jalapeno rings
-Store bought mild red salsa
Layer the bread with cheddar cheese, black beans and jalapeno rings. Cook in a panini press until cheese is melted. Alternately, grill on a pan on the stove like a grilled cheese sandwich. Dip the finished sandwich in salsa between bites.
Sicilian Tuna and White Bean Sandwich
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
-1 small garlic clove, minced
-1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
-Kosher salt and pepper
-1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (7-ounce or larger) can solid white albacore in water (tuna)
-rustic Italian bread, sliced
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and garlic. Stir with a whisk. Add the red onions and toss and let stand 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. In large bowl, combine vinaigrette and beans. Puree 1/3 of the mixture in a mini-food processor until smooth. Fold mixture back into beans. Add tuna and a little more olive oil if it seems too dry. Stir in mint. mix until tuna is no longer chunky. Toast slices of bread until golden and crispy and top with tuna mixture. Garnish with more mint.
These are some great things to keep in mind when grocery shopping if you want great lunches on the fly: Buy crusty bread instead of or in addition to that soft Sara Lee or Orowheat sandwich bread you usually buy. It makes much better sandwiches for grilling or pressing, toasting or just eating plain. I like a nice sourdough boule. Bread makes or breaks a sandwich. You will also enjoy using it for toast, french toast, bread pudding, fresh bread crumbs...etc. Second, when shopping periodically pick up cans of tuna to keep in the pantry because usually if you have nothing else to make for lunch, you will have ingredients for a simple tuna salad (lemon, mayo, celery OR apple, cheddar, jalapeno) since there are so many different ways you an make it. Buy your usual cheddar cheese but also chuck something else in your cart, like smoked gouda, brie or fontina. Cheese keeps for a long time and you can make a pretty basic grilled cheese sandwich into something wicked good with cool cheeses like that in your fridge. Deli meat=bad (most of the time) Real meat=good (rotisserie chicken, leftover turkey and baked ham). Lastly, buy a panini press if you can. It will change your world.